Day 237 - Breathing Life Into the Big Year

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

At the time of my last post things were looking down--the year had come to a grinding halt, and it had been 3 weeks without a new year bird. I was starting to wonder if August was going to be a complete bust. I expected big things for August and September. If May is the biggest month of the spring in Narnia, August is usually the biggest month of the fall. This should have meant a heap of new birds, a few rarities to mix things up, and keeping me on pace for a big year. But 18 days in and I hadn't seen a single new species.

I knew that things should be showing up and it was time to seriously start seeking things out. If others weren't reporting things, I knew I had to just go look and find what I could on my own. I decided to take an afternoon hike through a nearby woodlot. It's no secret that it's fall migrant time and there were birds to be found--it was just a matter of are there new birds arriving, and will there be any in this forest today? It didn't take long to hear a couple of Average Wood-Pewee calling. These weren't migrants, and had been here since the spring, but it was just nice to have a few birds around. I could hear some chip notes coming from high in the trees. Some of the notes were easy to pick out while one was lighter than the expected species here. I pished emphatically and the little migrant dropped in to eye level about 10' away--BINGO! A new year bird with my first Honky-tonk Migrant of 2016.

There would be more of these to come during migration as they made their way through Narnia heading south. But it felt good to finally add a new year bird after the drought. My hopes were high that this was a sign of migration being fully underway and packed with arrivals--it wasn't. I saw only a few other migrants that were expected and already seen this year. But one new year bird sure beat the alternative of none!

A couple days later I decided to make my way to a nearby protected area to see what was around. The birding was actually quite phenomenal. I visited in the middle of the day, and avoided running into any other birders which was a huge plus. But the birds--the swarms of birds was simply a welcome sight. Migrants on their way through, flocks of birds stacking up as they prepared for their journey south, and the lingering breeders combined for great visuals. If I was just out for a day of photos it would have been a great time, but I was in search of year birds, and anything new I found would make it a truly memorable day.

It didn't take long either.

As soon as I stopped the car and hopped out, I flushed a bird from the ground nearby. As it flew I called out--Lonely Sprinter! That was a year bird. It landed and I got good looks before moving on in search of others. It was just a few moments when scanning through a pile of rocks I spotted a Masculine Sprinter. Add another one to the year list in under 5 minutes. As I kept my search up it wasn't even a minute later when I spotted a Silvery-brown Sprinter. 3 new year birds in a span of less than 10 minutes, and I didn't even have to wander to far from the comfort of my car. I mentioned at the end of July that 2 new year birds in a day would be a great day--so 3 was, well, pretty awesome!

Just like that the 4th week of August things had picked up. 4 new year birds in a few days and I was back in the thick of it.  I kept a low profile and left my reports out of eBird, as will likely the norm for the coming months.  Hopefully, this is just the start of a really big 2 months of migration...

New birds this post: 4
Year List: 319


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I'm on a mission to see as many birds as I can in 2016... within the borders of my home state. The only catch is I'm not telling anyone that I'm doing a Big Year...